THE International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, which met in Armagh 23-29 September, discussed four papers that addressed bioethical considerations.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr Richard Clarke, and the Orthodox Metropolitan of the archdiocese of Zimbabwe, the Most Revd Seraphim (Kykkotis). Discussions included aspects of contraception, abortion, reproductive technology, stem-cell research, organ transplants, artificial life-support, assisted dying, and euthanasia. Prepared responses to the four papers were made by Anglican and Orthodox theologians and discussed in plenary sessions.
The meeting began with the celebration of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St Patrick, Armagh. The commission was invited to join with Anglicans in worship at St Mark’s, Ballymore, and at evensong in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. On the final day, the festival of St Michael and All Angels was observed.
The Commission developed its work on the theological understanding of the human person, according to principles in its agreed statement In the Image and Likeness of God: A hope–filled anthropology. In this phase, the Commission has begun to examine the consequences that follow from these theological principles, looking at the ethical concerns in various areas of human life.
The papers delivered included “Christian Ethics and the Beginning and End of Life: Themes in Anglican reflection”, by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams; “Bioethical Themes: Transplants and euthanasia, by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kition; “Survey of Anglican Church Documents on Beginning and End of Life Issues”, by Canon Philip Hobson; and “Medical Bioethics: An Orthodox Christian perspective for Orthodox Christians”, by Protodeacon Basil Andruchow.
The work of the Commission will continue at its next meeting in October 2017, hosted by the Anglican Communion.